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News > Companies
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Smirks amid the scandals
For Letterman and Leno, losing money can be funny as Wall St. hits home.
July 9, 2002: 7:09 PM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Stock market losses, accounting fraud and insider trading may be no laughing matter. But don't tell that to late night talk show hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman.

From bookkeeping scandals at WorldCom and Arthur Andersen to allegations of insider trading by Martha Stewart, the two funny men have mined humor from the business headlines.

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Enron hasn't been spared a shredding.

Jokes about Washington and Hollywood usually fill late night TV. That corporate news has catapulted to The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno says something about how much attention Americans are paying to the scandals.

Below are some recent riffs on the funny business of the day.

Leno

"The first thing WorldCom did after discovering this almost $4 billion loss was to fire 17,000 lower level employees. Like it's the janitor's fault. 'Johnson! Get that broom out of here.'"

David Letterman  
David Letterman

Letterman

"You folks seen 'Star Wars?' Have you? You know, originally, they said like the first weekend 'Star Wars' made like $2 billion or something like that -- crazy. Well, it turns out now, they're saying 'Star Wars' didn't actually make as much money as they were saying. Well, thank you Arthur Andersen."

Leno

Jay Leno  
Jay Leno

"Let me ask you: Anybody got a Martha Stewart stock certificate? I'll trade you two WorldComs and an Enron for it, if you have one!"

Letterman

"It's a special night. Tonight is my second anniversary -- two years ago today, I had quintuple bypass surgery on my heart...I am fine now. I just had a check-up and my heart is running as smoothly as an Enron document shredder."

Leno

"Before we go any further, I've been asked to make an announcement: The WorldCom July 4th picnic has been cancelled."

Letterman

"By the way, before I came out here, I received a phone call from Martha Stewart and she asked me if I would make an announcement for Martha. And she just wants all of her stockholders to know that those stock certificates can be made into lovely place mats."

Leno

"It's like one company after another. We've had Enron, Imclone, Tyco, WorldCom, Martha Stewart. Isn't it ironic? The most honest CEO over the last ten years: John Gotti."

Letterman

"I'm telling you, I have no luck at all. Here's what I did, and I'm not proud of this. I take all of my money out of Enron -- well, that's good, that's good, but -- but then I put it into K-Mart and I lose huge."  Top of page






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